The Bolivian experience begins
13.01.2011 - 19.01.2011 30 °C
We arrived in Corumba on the border with Bolivia around lunch. The first order of business was to cross across into Bolivia to buy tickets for the so called “Death Train” for the following day. We went to the Brazilian police office at border to get our exit stamps, only to find they had closed for lunch – we waited there for an hour or so. We then crossed into Bolivia and found that because of the one hour time difference, the Bolivian office was still closed for lunch and we would need to wait another hour for our entry stamps. Given the lack of security we decided to come back later and headed to the train station to buy tickets. They were also closed until 3.30pm, so we waited for an hour and half. Finally, with train tickets in hand we headed back to the Bolivian border office to receive our entry stamps and with formalities completed walked back across the border to spend our last night in Brazil (no further stamps required apparently). Jess also managed to locate one of Brazil's excellent ice cream buffets (you pay by the kilo) and there are some pictures attached.
At lunch the next day we went back to Bolivia to board the Death Train. There are a few explanations for the name. Either, the jarring, back breaking journey makes you wish for an early death or because the train historically carried the dead bodies of yellow fever victims. Given Jess and I are hardy souls (well I am) and both have our yellow fever vaccinations, we boarded the train without fear.
The train journey certainly was jarring, but it wasn't as terrible as the lonely planet had made it out to be and we arrived in Santa Cruz for a one night stopover on the way to Sucre. Nothing much to report here but it is true that if you want to eat locally you can get decent meals for around 12 – 15 bolivianos (A$1.50 - A$2.00). At the gringo hangouts you can spend a lot more but the prices were still a welcome relief after Brazil, which was super expensive by South American standards.
After some frenetic travelling we decided to spend three nights in Sucre to do some admin and recharge. Sucre, the original capital, is k and a UNESCO world heritage site is known as Bolivia's most picturesque city and is filled with amazing Colonial architecture. Our accommodation was great, more like a guest house or B&B than a hostel and Jess and I were able to kickback and relax.
We didn't do much of note there but did wander around the city and visited some of the museums, including a great textile museum which went into detail on Bolivia's indigenous weaving culture - sounds boring I know but it is actually quite fascinating.
I also found a replacement lens cap for my camera, which I had lost in Argentina and had been unable to replace, so Sucre was generally a major success.
We left Sucre on another train, bound for Potosi – an silver mining city from the days of the Spanish occupation which is still operating today. The next update will cover the train ride there.